It’s Bound To Be A Better August

August

When you think about it, August has always been a pretty good month over the years.

I mean, as a kid, it was prime summertime. With wading pools, slip ‘n slides, trips to the beach or a lake. Oh, sure, it’s when those pesky “Back to School” ads start showing up everywhere, but who pays attention to those? August is the last full month of summer, with 31 days jam-packed with “who the heck cares?”

Even as an adult, I’ve always been fond of the month. Being a Seattle Mariners fan, it was when I became free to start thinking about football. There are lots of fun celebrations around town including Seafair, The Evergreen State Fair, A Taste of Edmonds, maybe a camping trip or a weekend up at Lake McMurray.  The Perseid Meteor shower is always fun to catch. This year, we’re going to a Guns ‘n Roses concert, an Everett AquaSox game and the weekends are just loaded with events.

And the 2016 edition of August is definitely better than last year.

It was a year ago this week that my almost-92-year-old Dad fell for the last time. He had been declining in health for years and “the annual fall” had unfortunately become a tradition. This one took too much of a toll, and we were forced to say goodbye. There is never a good time to watch your father slip away–it’s one of those things you know is going to happen some day. You’re just never really ready for that day.

So, when August rolls around, I’m probably always going to think about dad. I prefer to look at the positives, so rather than focusing on when he died, I’d like to remember his birthday…and mom & dad’s anniversary…and….that brings us back to August.  They were married on August 19th, which happened to be my mom’s birthday (we always said, it was so that he would only have to remember one date every year) and he was born on August 31st. His mother’s birthday was August 30th.  There’s no way around it–when I think about August, I think about Dad.

In a way, I remember that August of 2015 like it was yesterday.  Every detail, the challenges, the disbelief, it’s surreal. It’s a life-altering experience that makes you take a look at how you’re living your own life. But then again, at the same time, that particular August went by like one giant blur.

Its hard to believe it’s been a year. But while I don’t hear his voice over the phone any more, I do have a lifetime of memories to wander through in my spare time. Every now and then, something will trigger a thought about dad. He smiles at me every morning at 4am when I drag my weary bones to the office computer and begin another day of tapping away on the keyboard.

Parents want a lot of things for their kids, but most will settle for just one–their kids living a happy life. I’m very fortunate to be doing exactly what I want to be doing, with people I like, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t say a little prayer of gratitude.

And look over at that guy on the wall, smiling at me.

Tim Hunter

Dad 2

BEING INSIDE MY MIND

I’m not sure when I first realized that I might be wired differently than most folks. I am grateful for the way it turned out, as my somewhat skewed view of events around me has allowed this kid from Torrance, California, to create jokes that, if nothing else, crack me up.

Example, I’m sitting on a jet heading for Florida a week ago. I could be thinking about a lot of things—the political conventions, the Olympics, Ken Griffey, Jr. going into baseball’s Hall of Fame. But NO!!! I look up and see this sign:

20160722_083700

Think of what might pop up in your brain. Got it?  My gray matter immediately asked the questions, “Why, in an emergency, would they make the English-speaking people exit on the left side of the jet, and force the Spanish-speaking people to use the right side? And what if I speak French? Just stay seated as everybody leaves?”

See what I mean.

Another thought popped into my brain, but I’ve learned that not everything is fit for public consumption. So, this one will require some background. I must make it very clear, this ISN’T a joke, but an observation. Ironic, but true.

So, we have this presidential race, featuring two very polarizing candidates. While there are die-hard party people on both sides (and I’m talking R’s and D’s, not beers and wines), the vast majority of us are counting down the days until November when we will have to pick the candidate who will do the least amount of damage, rather than who will be the better leader. I know more folks that are voting against someone, rather than for someone and that’s sad.  But here’s the delicate matter I hinted about earlier.

With those two candidates, locked in and representing their party, a judge has decided that now is the perfect time to release John Hinkley, Jr.–the guy who tried to impress Jodi Foster by shooting President Ronald Reagan back in 1981!

Seriously. We don’t have already enough wack-jobs out there on the streets with easy access to weapons?  So now, you’re going to release someone who shot an American president on TV? Oh, he’s got to stay on his meds and adhere to 130+ conditions in order to stay free. His mom is 90 and she’s supposed to take care of him. Yeah, I’m feeling good about this.

And of course, my brain wonders how he’s going to feel when he learns Jodi Foster is really not interested. I mean, really.

So, there you have it. Ladies & gentlemen, that concludes this little tour of the dark corner of Tim Hunter’s brain. Please head towards the exit and do visit our gift shop on the way out.

English-speaking people to the left, Spanish-speaking to the right.

French-speaking, just sit there for now and I’ll figure out what to do with you later.

Tim Hunter

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

If you lived in the Seattle suburb of Bothell any time in the past 30 years, you knew Fred Hering.  If not the man himself, the real estate guy who had his office right there on 522.  Coming into Bothell, you’d see that sign, “Bothell–For a day or a lifetime” and then you’d pass the reader board out in front of Fred’s company, Hering & Associates.

I found out this morning that Fred passed away this week. The announcement was made yesterday at the Northshore Kiwanis breakfast, which he rarely missed.

Fred had his hands in many pies–he was President of the Northshore Schools Foundation and a member for 14 years, the Northshore Kiwanis (40 years), Northshore Schools Foundation (14 years), PTA, Boy Scouts, Northshore Senior Center, America Cancer Society, GOP District 1, and the Greater Bothell Downtown Association.  The retired Navy veteran was also father to three boys: Kevin, Tim & Dave.

Somewhere back in the days when I was Mr. Bothell, playing on the radio and writing a newspaper column for the Bothell Reporter (then known as The Citizen), Fred and I hooked up.  We didn’t see each other very often, but every seven years or so, he would graciously invite me to join the Northshore Kiwanis for breakfast and to be their guest speaker.

The last invitation and the final time I saw Fred was almost two years ago. I had decided to leave my job at a Seattle area advertising agency and set a departure date–October 1st, 2014. If you need me for anything, catch me by September 30th, because that would be the last time you’d see me working there.

During that farewell month, Fred gave me a call and invited me to come and speak to the Kiwanis gang again. “So, what date you looking at, Fred?”  He replied, “October 1st.” I quickly responded, “Funny, I have absolutely no plans for that day or the days after it! You’re my first commitment!”

While searching my email inbox for old previous exchanges with Fred, I realized he’s one of the people on my Wacky Week email list. Most likely, Fred was probably one of the original subscribers. I have to say, the guy was a fan and liked my style of comedy. I doubt he listened to me much on the radio, but he read my newspaper column religiously. Looking through my book, “Nosin’ Around Northshore: The First Five Years”, I found a great example of how Fred & I shared the same humor gene:

Last week, I told you about some of the more unusual signs spotted around town.

The gang at Hering & Associates Real Estate along Bothell Way decided to get into the spirit of obscure signage. Maybe you noticed it over the weekend. I know I did. On both sides of their reader board, just two words:  “Tim Hunter”.

I thought it was catchy and I sincerely appreciated the honor. But in no way am I going to allow their special attention to affect the high standards I have set for this column. Nice try, Hering & Associates, the home of thoroughly-trained real estate professionals who would love to help you find your next home.

It’s sad when you say goodbye to those characters that make up the fabric of your life. Four years or so from now, the phone won’t ring.  Fred won’t be at the other end, picking up where we last left off.  However, I prefer to look at things from the other side. I realize that I was so fortunate to have met Fred and honored he’d even remember my name. Fred Hering did a lot to make the community he called home a better place and his efforts and smile will be missed. We definitely need more Fred’s in this world.

Tim Hunter

Lost Memory Recovered

payphone

When you think about it, we all experienced thousands–perhaps, millions–of events while we were growing up.  Going from first recollection to fleeing the nest, so much happened.  The older you get, the more the little details slip away and you simply hold on to those big events.

So I was pleasantly surprised by a memory of a little thing brought back this week by my sister Terri. She was the middle one, closest in age to me, so our high school years over-lapped. Terri was chatting with my mom on the phone the other day and she flashed back to the system by which we were picked up from high school, in the days before we could drive.

Apparently, each of us were given a dime. Back then, that was the price of a phone call from a phone booth. Whenever we had an after-school activity like band, a sport, drill team, whatever, we would let mom know approximately what time we might call.  Then, we’d place the dime in the pay phone, rotary dial the number, let it ring three times and then hang up.  That way, mom knew it was time to pick us up and we got our dime back.

A way to beat the system and save a dime.  I would have never remembered that by myself. Just thought I’d share this memory of a little thing from long ago and a much different time.

Tim Hunter                                                                  dime

 

 

 

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME

Bear

You can now rent “The Revenant” and so, in the near future. we’ll make the commitment and plow through that Oscar-winning movie.

My wife, Victoria, and I try to get out and see as many of the Oscar-nominated films before the big night each year, but that one kept getting bumped to the bottom of the list. The next thing we knew, we were just out of time. So we promised ourselves, “We’ll rent it when it comes out on DVD.”
When you wait that long to see a much talked-about movie, you hear things, you read things. SPOILER ALERT—I’m about to talk about what I heard that supposedly happens in the movie. Not necessarily things that do happen, but the rumored plot lines that seeped my way.
When you’re trying to psych yourself up to see a highly-awarded movie, the rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio was raped by a bear, or had to hollow out the guts of a horse to spend a night there (imagine how the horse felt) just made it a little harder to push that button at the Redbox kiosk.
At this point, we still haven’t seen the movie. I know it’s out there. We will rent it eventually. But until that time, when I think of The Revenant, I think of the bear, which takes me back to a week-long vacation when I was five-years-old.

I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb called Torrance, nestled in what they call the South Bay area.  When I was but 5-years-old, my Aunt Colleen, Uncle Chuck and cousin Charlie invited me to come along with them one week to their cabin in the mountains.  The place where it was located? Big Bear Lake.
I have spotty memories of that week, but here are the few things I remember:

  • The cabin they owned was in the mountains a good couple of hours away in a pine-scented neighborhood dotted with other vacation homes. It made you feel like you were a million miles from Torrance.
  • On our way to a fishing trip out on a rented boat, my Uncle Chuck gave Charlie and I some money to buy  drinks at a store for us to enjoy out on the rowboat. I picked out a chocolate milk soda for him because I thought he would like it.  He didn’t.
  • While out on the boat, I honestly don’t remember catching any fish, but I do remember being really hungry.  I decided to try a salmon egg (remember, I was 5) and I ended up eating most of the jar.  My uncle thought it was hilarious.
  • My cousin Charlie and I liked to wander around the woods above the cabin.  At one point, the two of us Einsteins thought it would be a good idea to go deep into the forest and build a fire.  But we weren’t going to take any chances.  We would build it inside a wood box so it wouldn’t spread.  Uh-huh. Fire department came, had to put out a mini-forest fire and, thankfully, we didn’t go to prison.
  • At one point of my first vacation away from mom & dad, my aunt & uncle tried to wear us down by taking us to the local community swimming pool.  There were signs everywhere saying, “Don’t run on the cement.”  A lifeguard yelled at me, “Hey, you—don’t run on the cement.” You know what happened next–I ran on the cement, slipped and went sliding on my side, scraping my left check pretty badly.

I was pretty low key after that—hurt and embarrassed. To make matters worse, a huge scab formed on that cheek. Upon arriving home, my parents were informed I had slipped at the pool and scraped my face. That was pretty much a non-event.  But what would I say to the neighborhood kids?  I can’t tell you how the mind of a 5-year-old works, but my brain decided to tell Glen, Karen, Kelly, and both Mikes that I was attacked by a bear. After all, we were up at Big Bear Lake.  It must have been by a big bear, right?

Did they believe me?  Maybe for a while. Maybe not. I know I tried to sell it.

Doing the math, that incident probably took place during the summer of 1960. Over the years, the scar has faded away and the story went to the back of my brain until The Revenant reminded me of my own personal bear attack.

So I guess Leo and I do actually have something in common—a bear attack that didn’t really happen.  Only he’s the one that gets the Oscar. Yep, kid actors don’t stand a chance.

Tim Hunter